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Comments by Marijonas Vilkelis - 17 Jan 2002 - 2103
Christian Pacifism was a term used by
Jim to presumably encompass an opposition view to the current war waged by the
Bush Administration. I would prefer to use
Frank's term - non-violence, although that too can have its short comings.
Non-violence is a very general term and
clearly covers a wide diversity of forms. The
variety of non-violence that Jesus taught has rarely been effectively applied
by people professing to be Christian and is widely regarded as impractical or
too idealistic for an imperfect world. I suppose this is one area of applied
Christianity which effectively swells the ranks of Sunday (only) Christians.
If we were in an ideal world, there
would be no need for pacifism. There's no
suggestion that applied Jesus-style-pacifism is either easy or a risk-free
procedure. It is no less an aspect of the
cross we should bear than any other remedial procedure for human brokenness.
Pacifism is an essential remedial process for the world as we find it. It is
an applied complex of almost every virtue we still have access to -
compassion, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness to name a few.
There has to be meaning and purpose
in Christian work done in this world. The main ethic behind good-willed human
blood sweat and tears is the re-building of what is humanly possible of this
human desecrated world. Pacifism gives an edge
of progress in human work. Pacifism is not cowardice or dithering and wringing
of hands. Indeed, waging war is all these things, if not the ultimate
cowardice. Pacifism is dealing with a situation but
poising the mind and will not to kill or maim. Killing,
and maiming never solve our problems although they may give the illusion of
doing so when they temporarily delay a particular onslaught - but only until
it returns more viciously and in another form.
Acting passively does not necessarily
prevent death and maiming, but these outcomes, if they occur, are essentially
un-intended by-products of the non-violent action. The
bad effects must not be intended and the good that comes from the passive
action cannot essentially depend on the bad effect having occurred.
Hypothetical case studies (what would
someone do in this or that situation) of pacifist action are very imperfect
observations because the status and mind set of the person or community being
assailed is intrinsic to the reason the attack is happening.
It is almost impossible to construct a model with this complexity.
Negotiation, diplomacy and hindsight are
probably the best tools to learn the meaning of an attack and to reduce the
chances of a repeat action. Obviously pride and arrogance will make such
action increasingly difficult. If attacks upon
us are random and unassociated to our status like many people try to argue,
then Jesus was nuts in telling us to turn the other cheek. There is always a
reason for such events, even if it originates from earlier generations.
Turning the other cheek is a true healing procedure because it absorbs and
transforms the disease from its source.
Pacifism or non-violence can certainly
bring suffering upon those who apply them, but faith tells me that in the end,
the suffering will be infinitely less than if violence is used as a solution.
Isaiah writes about the
Messiah as being "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus calls upon all
believers to become peacemakers, and says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for
they shall be called sons [children] of God" (Matthew 5:9). Paul writes,
"For the anxious longings of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the
sons [children] of God" (Romans 8:19).
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